Fateh and Hamas: Two Heads, No Brain

The photo ops have been taken in Washington DC and the waiting game begins once again on the Palestine-Israel front. How many more settlements will be built or expanded? Will the violence continue? What will happen to East Jerusalem?

But the more pressing issues on the minds of most Palestinians right now are personal economics and national unity. I will address the latter –” an issue which should have been resolved before the direct negotiations. After all, no comprehensive peace could ever come about without the approval of both major Palestinian political parties.

That brings me to Fateh and Hamas, both of whom are ignoring the people’s demand for unity in order to maintain meaningless power.

Two heads, no brain.

The first head belongs to Fateh, secular and widely viewed as corrupt and ineffective. Days before the direct negotiations, President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly said, “If there is a one percent chance of achieving peace, I will follow it. I am convinced in this because we want to reach peace with our neighbors ”

Funny, how neighbors do not include the Opposition. For that matter, they apparently do not include domestic protesters who were heavily opposed to the direct talks. They were beaten by PA police. Peace with neighbors. Really?

And then there is Hamas, the second head. Religious and widely viewed as intimidating and ineffective, they have amped the violence in order to "be heard." It can be argued that the violence against Israeli settlers is in retaliation for the numbers of Palestinian farmers and schoolchildren killed or wounded, but there is no mistaking the timing. And if they were that concerned about their people, why not step down so that Gazans can eat amidst a barbaric Israeli siege? The welfare of people comes before election results.

What is sad about the sometimes deadly friction between Fateh and Hamas is that every time they come close to direct negotiations themselves, one of them cancels to protest the actions of the other. No serious attempt is made to reschedule; just a clean break.

Each claim to be the protectors of the Palestinian Cause yet each one has greatly harmed it. The great strength of pluralism that has been symbolic of the Palestinian struggle from day one now threatens to be its greatest weakness. In the past, there were differences in ideology and tactics but one line was NEVER crossed — Palestinians spilling Palestinian blood. Not so anymore as Fateh and Hamas have traded live ammunition, resulting in dozens killed.

What possible purpose does the ill-fated rivalry between Fateh and Hamas serve? It is hardly an exaggeration to say that there was greater leadership under the First Intifada (1987–”1993) when power was concentrated on the grassroots level.

Both Fateh and Hamas are taking part in a charade before the world, implying that there is symmetry with Israel. As everyone knows, there is nothing of the sort — Israel calls the shots and lays the facts of more settlements/land grabs and repression on the ground.

While I was not a fan of the late Yasser Arafat, few can dispute that his legacy incorporated the unity of the Palestinians. The same will never be said for Fateh’s Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas’ Ismail Haniyeh.

A national unity government is a must! No ifs, ands, or buts. It’s neither a choice nor a luxury. It is a necessity. They need to provide a united front. It would give decisions more teeth and the people would finally feel like they are being led by leaders, not children in a schoolyard. Those who hinder efforts at Palestinian unity, internally or externally, are not friends of the Palestinian people.

Unfortunately for now, each is finding solace in the arms of others –” others who give little damn for them or the Palestinians. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” mentality is prevailing.

At some point, hopefully sooner than later, the will of the people will prevail and they will be forced in each other’s arms. The popular notion that two heads are better than one has clearly proven disastrous.

Until they wake up, Fateh and Hamas remain two heads and no brain.